"Why Study Users? Use and Users of Digital Resources in Humanities/Social Science (H/SS) Undergraduate Education" with Diane Harley, senior researcher at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at UC Berkeley. Project website
Harley is an anthropologist by training and does a lot of research on faculty and student attitudes. Interested in how technology gets integrated into the complexity of the academic environment.
Three-year project (2003-06).
- - Describe and map the vast university of digital resources, uses, and users in the H/SS
- How these resources are used and NOT used
- How to help users integrate resources into education
Why focus on H/SS?
- Understand variation in user and non-user types by discipline and institution
- H/SS different from science and tech courses
- H/SS not a monolith
- Primary source material and communication tools important
- Future role of technology in the delivery of general/liberal arts education
- ongoing discussion with faculty, librarians, ed tech professionals, and resource/site owners
- faculty survey: sampling opinions about digital resource use among various disciplines and institutions
- consolidating knowledge about users of online educaional resources (OER) through lit review, and convening site owners, funders, and user researchers
Defining digital resources
- Objects that employ rich media and span text, images, sound, maps, video, and many other formats
- Sources included collections developedd by large institutional entities, individual scholars, as well as canned resources--and everything in-between
- focus on freely available, unrestricted resources
Online survey sampled California CCs, liberal arts colleges, UCs, range of H/SS disciplines, response rates ~18-20%. Prepondeance of historians.
Four overaching questions:
-What digital resources do you use in UG teaching?
- How do you use them?
- What obstacles do you encounter?
In a perfect world, what would you do with digital resources?
Assiduously avoided judgments about "value" of specific resources.
- dizzying range of objects and their use
- across the disciplines
- used for a wide range of educational purposes and goals
- variation in faculty enthusiasm and involvement
Types of resources used included images or visual materials (75%), news or other media sources (64%), portals that provide links or URLs relevant to particular disciplinary topics (63%), reference resources (62%), and lots of others.
Where people find resources: Google (81% of respondents), personal collections, public online image database, online journals, media sites, library collections, portals, online exhibits, campus image databases, commercial image databases (9% of respondents)
How are resources used in teaching?
- presented during lectures (71%)
- asssigned to students for review (59%)
- assigned for student research projects
- linked to from class website
- tests and quizzes
- integrate primary source material
- improve student learning
(lots of teeny tiny unreadable charts and graphs in this presentation, and presenter is going very fast--sorry that I'm missing lots of stuff)
Barriers and frustrations:
- these resources don't substitute for the teaching approaches I use (75%)
- don't have time (60%)
- don't have reliable access to physical reosurces in my classroom (57%)
Historians in particular, especially classicists, emphasize the primacy of the text. They worried about the web, where you can get pieces of information disembodied from context.
(Argh. These charts are driving me crazy. I'm hoping they're online so I can review them myself.)
Assistance is important:
- setting up technical infrastructure (82%)
- creating a website
- digitizing existing resources
- assessing validity of sources
Faculty feeling: equipment in the classroom adds tension to the teaching experience. Classroom resources and support inadequate (at UC as well as CCs).
Dealing with faculty personal collections: copyright, digitization issues for those supporting faculty.
Not very many faculty make their resources available online to unaffiliated (non-paying, non-university) users.
Faculty use a variety of strategies for negotiating the digital morass. Path of least resistance is the one usually taken. "Easy" trumps all.
One-size-fits-all program unlikely to serve the needs of digital users. (Well, duh.)
- difficult of reaggregating objects that are bundled into fixed, often proprietary resources (including within LMSs)
- managing and interpreting digital rights
- uneveness of interface usability and aesthetics (and need for high end)
- growing demand for searchable collections
- knowing about and finding digital objects
- trillwing's inability to keep up with rapid-fire speaker who reads her PowerPoint slides
Advice for researchers:
- differentiate among types of OER content
- differentiate among OER users and contexts in which OER might be used
- differentiate users with different skill levels and learning objectives
- study non-users
(My fingers are too tired to blog the Q & A. Sorry!)
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